Are they mad?
“A YouGov poll has found that almost 10% of Britons aspire to being an author, followed by sports personality, pilot, astronaut and event organiser on the list of most coveted jobs”. The writing aspiration was especially noticeable in the over-35 female segment of the population.
Now, of all the career paths to choose, writing fiction is probably the least remunerative – or to put it even more bluntly, the worst paid for the hours involved. It is also a job where you work for (possibly) years, certainly a great many months, without any remuneration at all or in fact, any guarantee of reimbursement of expenses, let alone pay.
And even once you do get published, the amount of money you get is likely to be small, with no pension or employee benefits, or medical benefits. No job security or any guarantees are included. NONE. Even if you write a best seller or an award winner, there is no guarantee that you will be able to sell a book that you write, say, in 10 years time.
Glamour? Forget it. What’s glamorous about sitting at a computer for most of your day, in splendid isolation?
And here is one of the reasons why you should never consider writing as a career. Another Guardian newspaper article says:
“A quarter of US adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year.”
Nothing to say that they bought those books new. They could have been borrowed from friends or a library, or bought secondhand, in which case the authors never earned a penny for their work.
More from the poll: “Women and pensioners were most avid readers, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices. The median figure for books read – with half reading more, half fewer – was nine books for women and five for men.”
And – why am I not surprised: “Democrats and liberals typically reading slightly more books than Republicans and conservatives.”
Then, just to depress every author around: “Book sales in the US have been flat in recent years and are expected to stay that way indefinitely.”
Why, then, do I write? Because I have to. Because it is what I love to do. Because I have stories to tell. And because, on occasion, I come across a crowd of young people like Wendy and the group of readers and librarians who were in the sff section of Barnes and Noble Charlottesville last night, people who affirm my faith in readers and intelligent young people who want to have their minds stimulated by stories that push the envelope and stretch the imagination.